Talk about a missed opportunity.
Federal lawmakers could have taken a big step toward progressiveness on the medical marijuana front last week. The opportunity came gift-wrapped in the form of a bill that would have nixed government funding for raids on dispensaries and other MMJ businesses. The measure would have sent a clear message to President Obama that the government should back off cannabis companies complying with local regulations and laws. It also would’ve further legitimized the entire industry.
Lawmakers, however, shot down the bill by a wide margin after nearly an hour of debate. The vote split along party lines, as is usually the case with medical marijuana measures. Democrats overwhelming supported the proposal to cut the funding pipeline for raids, while Republican lawmakers opposed it (90% voted against the measure).
It’s not a huge setback for the industry, as the measure wasn’t expected to pass anyway – despite a last-minute push by medical marijuana advocacy organizations to get support for the measure. But the development is discouraging nonetheless, as it seems Washington is digging in its heels amid growing acceptance of medical cannabis across the nation.
There was also a troubling development last week in Colorado, where a lawyer reportedly lost her malpractice insurance coverage because she has represented medical marijuana companies and individuals involved in the industry. The lawyer’s insurance company – Hanover Insurance Group – informed the attorney that it would not renew her liability coverage because working with medical marijuana clients violates its underwriting guidelines. If other insurance firms take this same stance, attorneys and other professionals could sever ties with MMJ businesses – which would exacerbate the industry’s already-monumental challenges.
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